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Logic, Agency, and Games

Logic has had two complementary aspects throughout its history, one more static, one more dynamic (these are not judgmental terms). Logic is a theory of what follows from what in the grooves of reality --
but it also offers an account of rational intellectual activities such as inference, making decisions or engaging in debate. This course explores the latter perspective with a special focus on games. Games are a microcosm of every major notion studied in philosophical and computational logic, and their uses extend into all areas represented at NASSLLI.

The course is organized as follows.
(1) I start with a brief précis of current dynamic-epistemic-logics, showing what features of fallible information- and preference-driven agents fit well into the realm of logic.
(2) Next, I present some current uses of games to analyze basic notions of logic (evaluation for truth, structural invariance), and discuss what this means.
(3) Then I reverse direction, and discuss uses of logic to study different levels for analyzing games and their strategic structure, including dynamic-epistemic scenarios that turn game theory into a 'theory of play'.
(4) A fourth session will be devoted to influences from computer science in all this: the story of logic and agency is at the same time one of the foundations of modern computation.
(5) Finally, I discuss a few recent developments that show how all the earlier perspectives interact in a study of social interaction over time, where groups and social networks are major players. I identify some deep challenges raised by all this, such as linking up between logic, probability, and dynamical systems.

J. van Benthem. 2011. Logical Dynamics of Information and Interaction. Cambridge University Press.
J. van Benthem. 2014. Logic in Games. The MIT Press.

Course Materials

Johan van Benthem

Johan van Benthem
University of Amsterdam



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